New Straits Times
Philippine billionaire Gokongwei dies at 93
MANILA: John Gokongwei Jr, a Philippine billionaire who built a business empire spanning from banking, retail to aviation, has died. He was 93.
Gokongwei died late on Saturday “surrounded by his loved ones” at the Manila
Doctor’s Hospital, said his son Lance in a statement, referring to the tycoon by the nickname he was affectionately known as, “Mr John”.
He’s survived by his wife, six children and at least 12 grandchildren.
Born in Fujian, China, and raised in Cebu province in the Philippines, Gokongwei started working in his early teenage years after his father died, riding his bike to sell peanuts and knickknacks in neighbouring towns across the island to provide for his five siblings.
That laid the foundation for a business acumen that helped build a US$3.4 billion (RM14.04 billion) fortune, making him one of the country’s wealthiest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
With the money he saved, Gokongwei went into cornstarch production, predicting nascent industries like food, paper and textiles would need raw materials.
The corn mill has become the foundation of Universal Robina Corp — a 333.9 billion peso (RM27.26 billion) snacks, sweets and beverage business operating in six countries across Asia.
Aside from building a lineup of homegrown products, like Jack N’ Jill chips and C2 tea drinks, Universal Robina has also gone offshore to acquire Consolidated Snacks Pty, which owns Snack Brands Australia, and New Zealandbased biscuits maker Griffin’s Foods Ltd.
One of the tycoon’s most recent successes was the steady ascent of Cebu Air Inc, a carrier he founded in 1996 with only four aircraft.